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New York Times, Monday, October 5, 2015

Author:
Mike Buckley
Editor:
Will Shortz
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138/17/200910/5/20150
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0433300
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1.60001
Mike Buckley

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {BJX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Buckley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mike Buckley notes:
Inspiration can strike anywhere. I was in the parking lot at Save-On-Foods when I noticed something different about the 1973 quarter I ... read more

Inspiration can strike anywhere. I was in the parking lot at Save-On-Foods when I noticed something different about the 1973 quarter I was using for the shopping cart. During that year, to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the reindeer on the reverse side had been replaced by a horse and rider. Naturally I thought of QUARTER HORSES and the idea of a numismatic theme started to form.

Had I done my research I might have discovered Sherry Blackard's puzzle of Monday, August 13, 2001 and that would have been the end of it. As it was I went ahead and came up with three possible theme entries, but I knew that wouldn't be enough to impress the editors. Then the penny dropped: I found that THREE CENT PIECES would conveniently pass through my three theme entries. I had struck crossword gold! Well, silver actually. Anyway, that's what sold the puzzle, and that buys a cartload of groceries.

The three cent coin was proposed in 1851 mostly as a result of the reduction in postage rates from five to three cents. Over 74 million coins, silver at first then nickel, were minted from 1851 to 1889. The silver coins issued from 1854 to 1873 at 3/4 of a gram (about 1/38 of an ounce) were the lightest weight coins ever minted by the United States.

My first submission had no less than fifteen entries "that would make for unenjoyable solving," but the third attempt was right on the money. Of the published crossword, only 19 clues were totally rewritten by the editors while 18 were my originals. Each of the other 39 underwent a minor edit: small change, to coin a phrase.

Jeff Chen notes:
PENNY DREADFUL, what a colorful term! Along with common phrases NICKEL AND DIMING and QUARTERHORSES, the puzzle nicely covers the ... read more

PENNY DREADFUL, what a colorful term! Along with common phrases NICKEL AND DIMING and QUARTERHORSES, the puzzle nicely covers the first four US coins.

What a cool-looking coin! Too bad THREE CENT PIECES are out of circulation.

I liked the long fill, too. EVIL GENIUS is a snazzy enough entry on its own, but referencing the great Lex Luthor makes it even better. (Boo, goody-goody Superman!) TECHNIQUES isn't as strong, but I appreciate getting a Q worked smoothly in.

THREE CENT PIECES … my initial impression was that it felt out of place, because it's out of circulation these days. There is something cool about a bonus quasi-themer crossing each of the three main themers, but it also muddied up the theme for me. I would have preferred either 1.) having an unrelated long down run through all the themers, or 2.) doing away with it so the middle entry could have been NICKEL AND DIME, for a cleaner set of PENNY / NICKEL / DIME / QUARTER.

Check out how many neat six-letter words there are today. REMORA, FERMIS (common units in engineering), the full AMEN-RA, MONICA, PIRATE, STANZA. They added so much to my solving experience. It reminded me of something Joel's been emphasizing with his lower-count puzzles: mid-length entries can greatly spice up a puzzle.

I also appreciated how smoothly Mike worked in the Z of ZULU / ZEST. Too often I feel like a J Q X Z gets shoehorned into a Monday puzzle, resulting in gluey bits galore. Some may argue that UVEA is esoteric, but as one of my previous careers was in ophthalmic pharma development, I'd have to politely disagree.

ADEN might also raise an eyebrow, given how that corner could easily have been TOUR / EDEN / NESS. But ADEN is a major port, and it's nice to get a little diversity, especially since we see EDEN all the time in crosswords.

A theme that made me think, very good fill with just minor OLA and TIOS kinds of stuff = an enjoyable solve.

1
C
2
R
3
E
4
S
5
T
6
S
7
T
8
O
9
P
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Z
11
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S
13
T
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H
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W
T
O
15
T
H
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16
U
V
E
A
17
I
S
A
A
K
18
A
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O
19
L
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A
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P
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N
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D
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F
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23
Z
O
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24
E
L
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25
G
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N
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U
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M
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A
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T
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C
32
O
C
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34
H
E
A
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35
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N
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36
R
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37
A
M
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38
N
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39
K
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40
D
D
I
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G
41
I
M
H
O
M
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42
T
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S
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U
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C
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P
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Q
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55
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F
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60
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61
L
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Z
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62
A
D
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63
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64
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66
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67
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1005 ( 24,072 )
Across
1. Top of a wave : CREST
6. Heed a red light : STOP
10. Tanginess : ZEST
14. Do-it-yourselfer's book genre : HOWTO
15. Norse deity with a hammer : THOR
16. Part of the eye : UVEA
17. Chris who sang "Wicked Game," 1991 : ISAAK
18. Guthrie of Rising Son Records : ARLO
19. Word repeated before "pants on fire!" : LIAR
20. Showtime series named after an old fiction genre : PENNYDREADFUL
23. Proverbial madhouse : ZOO
24. "When all ___ fails, read the instructions" : ELSE
25. Young-sounding wildebeest : GNU
28. Spydom's ___ Hari : MATA
31. ___-Cola : COCA
33. Cousins of ostriches : RHEAS
35. Early afternoon hour : ONE
36. Cheese off : RILE
37. Supreme Egyptian god : AMENRA
38. Charging for every little extra : NICKELANDDIMING
41. Cry after "Hi, honey!" : IMHOME
42. Mexican uncles : TIOS
43. 180° turn, informally : UIE
44. "I'll handle it!" : CANDO
45. European G.M. division : OPEL
46. MADD ads, e.g. : PSAS
47. Three-time foe for Frazier : ALI
48. Quaker Oats's Rice-A-___ : RONI
50. Trident-shaped Greek letter : PSI
52. Mounts for cowboys : QUARTERHORSES
58. Late afternoon hour : FOUR
60. Shoestring : LACE
61. Mario with the 1951 #1 hit "Be My Love" : LANZA
62. Yemeni port city : ADEN
63. Store sign between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. : OPEN
64. Company that made Pong : ATARI
65. Loch ___ monster : NESS
66. Where eggs hatch : NEST
67. Befitting a monarch : REGAL
Down
1. Part of a casino stack : CHIP
2. By any other name it would smell as sweet, per Juliet : ROSE
3. McGregor who played a young Obi-Wan : EWAN
4. Section of a poem : STANZA
5. City destroyed by Godzilla : TOKYO
6. Polaris, for one : STAR
7. Lightest coins ever minted by the U.S., used in the late 19th century : THREECENTPIECES
8. "C'est merveilleux!" : OOLALA
9. Nudges : PRODS
10. Letter after X-ray and Yankee in the NATO alphabet : ZULU
11. Lex Luthor, for example : EVILGENIUS
12. Ocean : SEA
13. La Brea stuff : TAR
21. Tame, as a pet : DOCILE
22. Units named for physicist Enrico : FERMIS
26. Land chronicled by C. S. Lewis : NARNIA
27. Grammar Nazis' concerns : USAGES
28. Santa ___ (city next to Los Angeles) : MONICA
29. Alternative to vegetable and mineral : ANIMAL
30. Ways to do things : TECHNIQUES
32. Greeting in Rio : OLA
34. Skirt's edge : HEM
36. Fish that can attach itself to a boat : REMORA
37. Ochs of New York Times history : ADOLPH
39. Floored, as a boxer : KOD
40. Six-sided roller : DIE
45. Prerecorded, in a way : ONTAPE
46. Jack Sparrow or Captain Hook : PIRATE
49. DuPont acrylic fiber : ORLON
51. Kind of energy with panels : SOLAR
53. Vases : URNS
54. $2, for Mediterranean Avenue : RENT
55. Slight hitch in one's plans : SNAG
56. Poet Pound : EZRA
57. Mast's attachment : SAIL
58. Pre-air-conditioning cooler : FAN
59. Poem of praise : ODE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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